Often referred to as the ‘East End’, Tower Hamlets has a distinct and diverse identity that has long attracted radicals, whether social, religious or philanthropic. Bordered on the south by the River Thames, it was once part of the world’s largest port. It has seen successive waves of immigration including French Huguenots and Jewish refugees and, more recently, people from Bangladesh, all of whom have made the borough their home.
Tower Hamlets also has royal history, being the site of the Tower of London (after which it is named) and has enjoyed regeneration in the commercial and residential centres of Canary Wharf and Spitalfields. Its story reflects and celebrates the rich and varied contributions individuals have made, and are making, to British life and culture.
Explore inspirational people with connections to Tower Hamlets:
All images © National Portrait Gallery, London unless otherwise stated. Mark Gertler possibly by Dora Carrington, c.1909–1911 (detail). NPG 5431 Rachel Whiteread by Gautier Deblonde, 1999 © Gautier Deblonde (detail). NPG x126937 Edith Cavell by Eleanor M. Ross, c.1917 (detail). NPG 5322 David Adjaye by Jonathan Root, 2007 © Jonathan Root (detail). NPG x133117 Isaac Rosenberg by Isaac Rosenberg, 1915 (detail). NPG 4129 )